Monthly Archives: July 2007

ELVIS FANS SPEAK OUT ON PRODUCT TIE-INS

On more than one occasion, I have spoken out about what a waste of time Internet forums and chat-rooms can be.  It just seems like some pretty stupid people dominate the chat-rooms, and they often veer off the subject being discussed.  On the other hand, there are usually a few humorous comments if you have time to read through all the drivel to find them.  Let me save you the trouble of looking for the good stuff among the comments to three recent news articles on www.elvisnews.com.

 

All three involve new Elvis product tie-ins as we approach the 30th anniversary of his death.  The products are Viagra, Marie Osmond’s “Baby Elvis” Doll, and the Elvis “Talking” Action Figure.  Here are the comments I found interesting on each.

 

Viva Viagra:  There is a 30-second TV commercial for Viagra that shows a group of middle-aged-looking guys playing in a roadhouse band.  They are singing “Viva Viagra” to the tune of the Elvis hit “Viva Las Vegas.”  For what it’s worth, I like the ad. You can check it out on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PH9qAGPULk.    Here are my favorite responses:

 

What the Hell.  Elvis wouldn’t need that stuff if he was alive now.  That guy … was a horn dog.  He rules.

 

What next, a Depends commercial using the song “I’m Counting On You?

 

Cool commercial, give me more.

 

How disgusting.  I can’t even think of words right now to describe how sick this is.

 

Oh s++t!  I feel horny already.

 

I hate the commercial.  I hope EPE steps in.  I hope they did not give permission for these idiots to use the song (Ed. note:  Wanna bet?)

 

Marie Osmond’s “Baby Elvis” Doll:  According to the release on Elvis.Com, Marie Osmond knew Elvis when she was a young performer, and she was greatly influenced by both Elvis and his music.  She is quoted, “I was completely smitten by Elvis’ charm, talent and his swiveling hips.”  Marie Osmond has also been in the doll business for sixteen years, and she has come up with a new line: “Little Bit Country, Little Bit Rock & Roll.”  Well, guess what the first doll in the series will be?  “Baby Elvis,” wearing a tiny replica of the famous American Eaglejumpsuit from the Aloha From Hawaii TV special.  You can check it out at www.marieosmond.com.  Here are some interesting comments on ElvisNews.Com:

 

I like the Osmonds, but if this is “Baby Elvis,” why would he be in a jumpsuit.  This is about making money.  (Ya think?)

 

Another pseudo-“must” for the collectors.

 

If I was a doll collector… I’d buy that for sure.  It’s something good to pass down to your daughters and a good way to keep Elvis’ memory alive.

 

It would be funny if they had a Baby Colonel holding a candy cigar to complete the set.

 

Yes, even have a Baby [Memphis] Mafia set.  Baby Lamar could walk in and disrupt the whole Jungle Room Nursery.

 

Elvis “Talking” Action Figure:  A company called Talking Presidents has released the first two in a line of “talking” Elvis action figures.  They are twelve –inches tall, and when you press the button on the back, a micro-chip gives you a dozen sound bites in Elvis’ own voice.  According to the EPE press release, “you’ll listen to an intimate, thoughtful, reflective, humorous, youthful, yet wise beyond his years, Elvis.”  (That’s certainly what I want from my action figures.)  You can see both models at: www.talkingpresidents.com.  Here’s what the readers thought of this idea:

 

Every big star in the entertainment business nowadays has his or her own talking doll. The Spice Girls, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson.  So why not let our man have his own talking doll as well (even though, judging from the picture, he doesn’t look at all like our man).

 

Put a cowboy hat on it, and it would closely resemble Woody from Toy Story.

 

The thing is – had the technology been available in the 50s, the Colonel would have pushed it, and just about every Elvis fan would have bought one.  They’d be collectors’ items now, and every Elvis fan/collector would have sought one out from eBay.

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I give up.  I am now going to my garden and build a sound-proof shed, so I can shout out, with all the air my poor lungs can muster, every item of foul and offensive language I can think of…. a disgrace and an embarrassment to the name and achievements of Elvis Presley.  I have to say that if anyone out there actually buys this third-rate piece of crap, then you need to re-assess your claim to be an Elvis fans.  (I guess that means she didn’t like it much.)

 

The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

 

And finally, here is the quote from ElvisNews.com that preceded the article on the Elvis “Talking” Action Figure:  “We really wonder who wants to buy this sh*t.”

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

 

ODD ELVIS WEBSITES — 2

Back in November 2005, I discovered that someone had Googled “odd websites,” and Elvisblog came in # 8 out of 3,170,000 results.  I told my wife, and she asked, “Is that a good thing?” 

 

“Not really,” I answered, “but it’s not as bad as it sounds.  Google isn’t evaluating web sites.  It is looking for sites with those exact words in it.  Elvisblog had an article earlier this month called New Archive Items, Some Odd Websites, And A Tease, and Google is finding that.”

 

“Oh.”  She didn’t really care.  Hoping you Elvis fans do, I offer a few more websites with odd stuff about Elvis.

 

The Elvis and Jack Nicklaus Mysteries:  This one is pretty cool.  It is part of a site called Icebox, which seems to be a place for animators/writers to show off series ideas in hopes of moving them up to TV shows or theatrical shorts.  The Elvis and Jack Mysteries are the creation of Jeff Martin.  There are four stories, each lasting only a few minutes.  The Elvis voice is done well, both in dialog and in the singing of the catchy theme song at the end of each episode.  The lyrics tell it all:

            Elvis and Jack Nicklaus

            It may sound ridiculous

            They were once as close as friends can be

            Evil-doers best beware

            Hillbilly Cat and the Golden Bear

            Teaming up to solve a mystery

Have some fun and watch all four stories at http://www.icebox.com/index.php?id=show&showid=s1

 

Arm Of Elvis:  (Sub-titled “Elvis’ Arm Has Left The Building)  This silly site from England is dedicated to the ongoing plight of the arm stolen from a small hanging Elvis figurine owned by “The Dexter.”  The Dexter provides readers with both verbal and sketched histories of the brutal attack.  He has a link to official and visitor sightings of the missing arm and also a sightings forum that degenerates into some stupid stuff.  Another link enables readers to post nasty ransom notes, which will be posted on Visitor Threats, but so far there aren’t any.  My favorite link on this site has five related games, although the missing arm has returned to Elvis for one of them.  If you have some time to kill, click on http://www.armofelvis.co.uk/.

 

Bela and Elvis:  Believe it or not, someone has done research to show that Elvis and Bela Lugosi had much in common.  The author states, “There is a most amazing psychic link that draws these two charismatic performers together in a chain of synchronicities that seem almost too strange to be just a coincidence.”  Well, I don’t know if I’d call it all that, but it does start with the fact that they both died on the same date (21 years apart).  For an interesting, but not too convincing, theory, click on http://www.horror-wood.com/belaelvis.htm.

 

Elvis In The Holy Land:  It won’t take long to check out this site featuring “The Elvis Inn” in Abu Ghosh, Israel.  Sounds like a hotel, but a better description would be a cross between a 7-11 and a souvenir stand.  Imagine this: babaganoush, shwarma, and Elvis coffee mugs all at the same store.  For more proof that Elvis really is everywhere, click on http://www.ibiblio.org/elvis/elvisinn.html.

 

Elvis, For The Ladies:  This is not really an odd web site, but it has an unusual feature.  It is a four-minute video on You Tube set to a song by Mariah Carey.  Dozen of photos of Elvis scroll up and down the screen, and most of them are ones I have never seen before.  What might be of special interest to you ladies is a string of ten photos early in the video that show Elvis without a shirt.  So, if you want to see bare-chested Elvis, click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9g_Ck8Ao7o.

 

Smells Like Catfish:  This is a site I found by linking from a July 10 article on www.elvis.com/news.  Considering the content, it’s hard to believe that anyone at Graceland ever checked it out.  Maybe there are just too many official EPE licensees to keep up with everything they all have on their websites.  Anyway, Lowell Hays was Elvis’ jeweler and friend in the 1970s, and on his site you can purchase official licensed replicas of the custom pieces of jewelry Hays made for Elvis.  You can also read several “great memories” Mr. Hays has of the years he spent with Elvis.  Be sure to check out the third one at http://www.elvisjeweler.com/Stories.html.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

ELVIS and BOOTS RANDOLPH

After Boots Randolph passed away last week, I checked out several large websites devoted to Elvis and didn’t find much delving deep into the connection between Boots and Elvis.  That was surprising, because there was a significant relationship between these two music legends. 

 

There was certainly much more than just “Reconsider Baby” and “Return To Sender,” the two Elvis songs on which Boots played that were mentioned in most news reports.  Between 1960 and 1967, Boots actually played on twenty Elvis recording sessions.  These produced three rock albums, two gospel albums, eleven movie soundtracks, and dozens of songs for later use in albums or singles releases. 

 

After Elvis returned from the Army, the vault of unreleased songs was empty, and it was imperative to record some good material quickly.  On March 20,1960, at RCA’s Studio B in Nashville, producer Chet Atkins assembled a familiar group of musicians to play behind Elvis:  Scotty Moore on guitar, DJ Fontana on drums, the Jordanaires on vocals, Floyd Cramer on piano, and Bob Moore on bass.  They recorded six songs, including the hit “Stuck On You.”

 

On April 3, the group reassembled with three notable additions: Hank Garland on guitar, Buddy Harmon on drums, and Boots Randolph on sax.  They recorded twelve songs, nine of which ended up in the album Elvis Is Back.  Some critics acclaim this album as Elvis’ best (I agree), and it contained the exalted blues number “Reconsider Baby.”  On it, Boots had the distinction of doing the first sax solo on an Elvis song.  There is no telling how many times Boots performed “Reconsider Baby” during the last 47 years, but I have heard him do it four times, and he was great each time.  If you are tempted to pull out Elvis Is Back and give it another listen, check out “Like A Baby.”  It is another classic Elvis blues number, and Boots’ sax part is masterful.

 

In November 1960, Boots joined Elvis again at the session to record songs for the gospel album His Hand In Mind.  If you have trouble imagining a sax part in a gospel song, “Milky White Way” will show you how it’s done.

 

March 1961 was an intense period of musical activity for Elvis — and Boots Randolph was there for all of it.  First, there was another regular album to do as Elvis and the guys gathered in Nashville for the Something For Everybody sessions.  A week later, the whole group traveled to Hollywood to record the Blue Hawaii soundtrack.  As soon as they finished, everyone took off for Hawaii to perform in the benefit concert to raise money for the Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial Fund.  This was Elvis’ last live performance for eight years, and it was the last time Elvis ever wore the famous gold lame coat.

 

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Later in 1961, Boots played at the soundtrack recording sessions for two more movies, Follow That Dream and Kid Galahad, plus a Nashville studio session that produced the hit single “Good Luck Charm.”

 

Boots continued to record with Elvis in 1962.  In March there were the Nashville recording sessions for the next studio album Pot Luck, and the Hollywood recording sessions for the movie Girls, Girls, Girls.  Boots has an extended sax solo on the title song as well as on “Return To Sender,” the hit from the movie.

 

In 1963, Boots recorded with Elvis on two more movie soundtracks, Viva Las Vegas and Kissin’ Cousins.  In March of that year, Boots joined Elvis for a recording session that was supposed to be for another studio album, but the songs ended up on four different movie soundtracks, two regular albums, and five 45RPM single cuts.  As I mentioned in a 2/18/07 blog article, RCA finally did release all fourteen songs in 1991 on an album called The Lost Album.  Later, it was released on CD titled For The Asking (The Lost Album).  If you have it, check out Boots’ solo on “Witchcraft.

 

From 1964 to 1967, Boots continued to record with Elvis.  There were two general sessions in Nashville that produced singles and album cuts.  There were five more movie soundtrack sessions in Hollywood: Roustabout, Girl Happy, Spinout, Double Trouble, and Speedway.  And, there was one more gospel album How Great Thou Art.

 

The final tally of Boots Randolph’s recorded work with Elvis comes to eleven sessions in Nashville and nine in Hollywood, plus that one live concert performance in Hawaii.  Both men left a huge musical legacy.  If there is music in Heaven, you know they are up there singing and playing together again.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

HANGING OUT WITH BOOTS RANDOLPH

If you read Elvisblog, you probably also visit other websites devoted to Elvis.  So, it is safe to assume you have already read articles recounting the death of Boots Randolph and the connection between him and Elvis.  Rather than retread that same ground, I would like to reminisce about my one occasion to get close and personal with Mr. Yackety Sax.

 

It was back in 2004 during Elvis Week in Memphis.  The big celebration that year was the 50th anniversary of Elvis’ first recording “That’s All Right.”  During those years with special significance (25th anniversary of Elvis’ death, etc.), Darwin Lamm, Editor and Publisher of Elvis…The Magazine. always presents his famous “Good Rockin’ Tonight” concerts.  These concerts have been held in a variety of venues from Mud Island to the Orpheum Theater to the Peabody Hotel Grand Ballroom.  In 2004, Lamm upgraded considerably and staged his events at the prestigious Cannon Center.  This is the home of the Memphis Opera Company, and it featured superb acoustics.  I worked backstage doing any kind of “gofer” duties that came up.  I got to go for ice, bottled water, extra Xerox copies of the song list, and so forth.  It was a great job, because I rubbed elbows with dozens of people with real Elvis connections.

 

The Cannon Center didn’t come cheap, so Lamm used the facility for two concerts the same day.  On August 13, he presented “The Legends” at 6:30PM and “The TCB Band” featuring Terry Mike Jeffrey” at 10PM.  “The Legends” concert was built around Elvis’ original guitarist Scotty Moore, his original drummer D J Fontana, and his original background vocalists The Jordanaires.  Boots Randolph was the big-name guest artist.  Singing duties were handled by an impressive list of talents: Billy Swan, Lee Rocker, Eddie Miles, Stan Perkins, and the unannounced surprise guest, Ronnie McDowell.

 

McDowell’s band joined the other musicians for the show, and, in my opinion, this resulted in a special addition to the sound,.  Steve Shepherd was McDowell’s keyboard player, and once they started playing, I truly loved the sounds Shepherd produced on that keyboard.

 

“The Legends” concert turned out to be a superb event, and the hit of the show, without question, was Boots Randolph.  He came out to do one of Elvis’ best blues numbers, “Reconsider Baby,” and he nailed it.  For a man from the heart of the Nashville country-music community, he could really wail the blues.  The audience just ate it up, and they gave Boots a huge ovation.  Next he jumped into his signature song, “Yackety Sax,” and it was just a magic moment.  You would have never guessed this was a seventy-seven-year-old man blasting away on stage.

 

I watched from stage-right, as did Terry Mike Jeffrey, the vocalist for the second concert with the TCB Band.  He was just as impressed with Boots’ performance as I was.  After the show, I noticed Terry Mike talking to Boots backstage.  I quietly moved within hearing range and overheard the best news.  Terry Mike asked Boots to perform during the second concert as well — and Boots agreed.  I don’t think any compensation was involved, but Boots was a showman and he was on a roll.  He was happy just to perform before another group of music lovers.

 

When the second concert started later, I was again on stage-right.  After the first song or two, Boots Randolph showed up and took a seat on a folding chair near me.  The chair next to him was empty, so I jumped at the opportunity to sit next to a celebrity.  Boots was certainly dressed like one.  He was impeccable in a sharp suit and tie.  However, he didn’t act like a celebrity.  He was very friendly to me, and we chatted softly about a few things between songs.

 

The main topic that stands out in my memory was a question I asked him about the difference in the two bands.  “The Legends” had Steve Shepherd on keyboard, while “The TCB Band” had Glen D. Hardin on piano.  Hardin is an excellent musician, but I was struck by how much more I liked Shepherd’s keyboard work.  So, without leading the question, I asked Boots’ which he liked best, the keyboard sound in the first concert or the piano sound going on in the second.  He started out saying he liked them both equally, but the longer he talked, the more he leaned toward the keyboard.  I was pleased this respected music giant thought the same way I did on a musical matter.

 

Soon it was time for Boots to go on stage, and he went out there and wowed them again.  I had been in the presence of a true legend and was thrilled that he was kind enough to chat with me briefly.

 

Boots Randolph was scheduled to be part of this year’s Elvis Week concert, “Scotty Moore – The Last Man Standing” on August 15th.  His death will leave a huge void on stage and in the hearts of many people.  I was so looking forward to hanging out with him again backstage.  We’ll miss you, Boots.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net

ELVISBLOG NEWS — 7/1/07

Scotty Moore/Rolling Stones Picture Added to May 2006 Article:  Over a year ago, I posted an article titled “Scotty Moore Meets The Rolling Stones Backstage.”  This was before I learned how to post photos with the blogs.  The article was weakened by the lack of a photo, and that has now been corrected.  Please click on the article and see the great picture of Scotty, Keith, Ronnie, and a cardboard stand-up of Elvis.   Many thanks to Ella Shepherd, wife of very talented keyboard player Steve Shepherd, for giving me permission to use her photo on Elvisblog.

 

Weekly Visits to Elvisblog Hit New Record:  Sorry to brag again, but something has caused the number of hits on Elvisblog to jump.  Last week the count jumped up to 1880, an 11% jump over the old record.  A new daily high of 333 hits happened on Thursday, June 21.  The previous record was also on a Thursday, so maybe there is a pattern here.  Anyway, thanks for visiting Elvisblog.

 

GIANT FLOATING ELVIS HEAD

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This article probably should have been titled “Elvis Really Is Everywhere – Part 3,” because it fits that category so well.  But, it’s much more fun to go with a wonderful eye-catcher like “Giant Floating Elvis Head.”  Either way, here is the story.

 

Elvisblog readers in the Seattle area know all about the early-May Opening Day celebrations marking the start of the boating season.  The Seattle Yacht Club has sponsored Opening Day since 1914, and a parade of boats has been part of the festivities since 1920.  The boat parade takes place in Montlake Cut, a ship channel 350 feet wide and 30 feet deep, which links Lake Washington to Puget Sound.  A total of 316 boats entered the 2007 Opening Day parade, and thousands more lined the channel,  I like that:   Watch the parade from the comfort of your boat.  Sounds like party time to me.

 

In 1959, a theme for the boat parade was first used, and the tradition continues.  Last year it was “Caribbean Carnival,” and this year it was “Musical Memories.”  Every yacht club or individual with a boat in the parade was encouraged to decorate their boat with a musical theme and to have that music playing loud as they go by the spectators.  Judging was held in various categories.

 

Well, the winner in the category for boats with a sponsor was the entry by the nearby Bremmerton Yacht Club.  Their entry had no official name, but a popular favorite among the local media was the “Giant Floating Elvis Head.”  Its closest competition came from a boat made up to look like the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.

 

The Elvis idea was the brainstorm of a Seattle police officer, Don Hardgrove.  His shift starts at 5:30 a.m., and he had a vision during one of his long morning commutes from Bremmerton.  He’s not sure why he got the idea, because he is not a huge Elvis fan and owns no Elvis CDs.

 

Hardgrove took his idea to the club membership, and they agreed to go with it.  They even allocated $1,150 for construction costs and another $500 for costumes for the club members on board.

 

Hardgrove owns a sailboat, so another member volunteered his 42-foot cruiser for the project.  Club members constructed the giant Elvis head  — about 22 feet high and 11 feet wide.  It had lips that moved and eyebrows that arched, both controlled manually by pulleys inside the head.  Eleven crewmembers on board wore white Elvis jumpsuits made of Tyvek, a popular house wrap for homes under construction.  They also wore cheap Elvis wigs and sunglasses.  With Elvis songs blasting from the ship, these “Impersonators” did their best to duplicate Elvis’ famous stage moves. 

 

The frame for the giant Elvis head was made from PVC pipe and chicken wire, which was covered with heavy-duty canvas.  The eyebrows and lips were foam, and the hair was made from several hundred feet of synthetic weed-blocker fabric.  When the float was dismantled, the weed-screen mesh was given to the yacht club members for their gardens.

 

So, parts of ‘Elvis’ will carry on for many growing seasons, keeping down weeds in the gardens of Bremmerton, WA.  The Giant Floating Elvis Head is just one more example validating that well-known fact:  Elvis really is…  everywhere.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net